Election in Kazakhstan: President Tokayev re-elected without competition

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Éelection in Kazakhstan&nbsp ;: President Tokaïev re-elected without competition

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

The outgoing President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has clearly won the presidential election, in the absence of opposition, confirming his status as the new strongman of the most great country of Central Asia, at the end of a dark year for this State rich in natural resources.

According to preliminary results given Monday by the Electoral Commission, the 69-year-old man who came to power in 2019 obtained 81.31% of the vote. Voter turnout was 69.44%.

As expected, his five opponents made up the numbers, none of them exceeding the 3.42%.

As for the vote against all option, a novelty of this election, it won over 5.8% of voters and came in second place.

Located at the crossroads of important trade routes, Kazakhstan descended into chaos in January when protests against high prices escalated into riots, only to be brutally put down. Toll: 238 dead.

The country remains traumatized by this crisis and, a sign that tensions persist, the authorities announced on Thursday that they had arrested seven supporters of an opponent in exile, accused of fomenting a coup.

Members of Kazakhstan's election commission empty a ballot box at a polling station in Astana.

On Sunday night, Mr. Tokayev, who obtained nearly 71% of the vote in 2019, called for unity to carry out the program of his constitutional reform of June.

This election opens a new era and all the main institutions of power will be reformed, he promised.

He reiterated his commitment to economic reforms and the end of the monopoly in power, as Kazakhstan experienced during the three decades of the reign of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned in 2019.

The president-candidate had campaigned on his project to create a New, fairer Kazakhstan. But economic difficulties persist, as do authoritarian reflexes.

Mr. Tokayev, who honed his first skills as a Soviet diplomat, became a key figure in the Nazarbayev regime upon independence.

But after being considered a the henchman of his predecessor, the Kazakh President has officially undertaken to cut the cord in favor of the January crisis.

He has evolved into a relentless leader this year, firing on rioters in January, arresting relatives of the Nazarbayev clan, then standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A clan struggle which did not prevent Mr. Nazarbayev from being the first to congratulate his ex-protégé on his re-election, indisputable proof of the unshakable faith of the people in (his) reforms.

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Fifteen people demonstrated in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to demand free elections. They were all arrested.

If the identity of the winner was sewn with white thread, a slight suspense hovered as to the percentage of votes that Mr. Tokayev would collect, pure product of the Soviet era who wants to be the man of renewal.

But this New Kazakhstan that Mr. Tokayev calls for, in particular through the end of a superpresidential regime, is struggling to get rid of its authoritarian reflexes after three decades spent under the thumb of the omnipotent Nursultan Nazarbayev .

Like this election in line with the Nazarbayev era, which won 98% of the votes in 2015, the political landscape remains deserted and the opposition muzzled by pressure from the authorities.

And on Sunday, AFP saw several voters take pictures of themselves in front of polling stations, many voters invoking the obligation to show the photo to their employer on Monday.

Despite this overwhelming score and the absence of competition, Mr Tokayev considered that this campaign had been fair and open.

International election observers from the OSCE expressed regret before the poll that their recommendations ons relating to fundamental freedoms and the conditions of eligibility and registration of candidates have not been acted upon.

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